Saturday, September 27, 2014

Paying Attention To My Money

by Dick Mac

Image from
Used without permission
There are different ways to pay attention to your money.

Most of us do the standard thing:  budget.  I earn $x and my expenses are $y and I like to save $z.  That leaves me $lmnop for music downloads, hookers, subscriptions, booze, gambling, dating, etc.

Some of us have investments and follow our holdings in the stock market.  Ford is up, Home Depot is down, ATT is a strong sell, Abbott is a strong buy, for example.  By the way, I am not an expert in investments, I just made up all of that stuff.

Many more of us have retirement funds, sometimes with our employer, but some of us also have privately owned fund. I have no opinion about what funds are better than others, but I am trying to understand the machinations of it all.

Most 401(k) plans provide us with a list of funds that we can choose from.  Often I hear people say they have their money in target date retirement funds.  Those are funds that are geared to maximize the benefit for people retiring in a certain year.  So, if you are 29 now, and plan to retire when you are 60, you might put your money in a fund with a target retirement date of 2045.  A fund like this will invest aggressively and with more risk when we are young, and then the investments become more conservative and stable as we approach the target date.

There are also individual funds that specialize in stocks and bonds:  international, small-capital, metals, health care, media, treasuries etc.  You put your money in these funds and the majority of the money is invested in companies or bonds that fall in that category.

The thing that's always baffled me about funds is finding out what stocks/bonds they own.  If I am anti-abortion, is my money in companies that provide abortion-related devices?  If I am opposed to war, is my money invested in mercenaries and arms manufacturers?  If I am concerned about obesity, is my money in Coca-Cola or Hostess?

How are we supposed to know this stuff?

Bankers certainly don't want us to know, so they don't publish that data in an easy-to-access manner.

Fund administrators don't want us to know because we might form opinions that conflict with their plans and we might start bothering them about it.

In the world of finance, those in charger prefer we all remain uninformed and, hopefully, unenlightened.

There are some companies I boycott and do my best to avoid:  Nestle, Wal-Mart, and Monsanto, especially.  It's easy to avoid the first two.  Monsanto is insidious because it's next-to-impossible to know which growers and manufacturers use their poisons.

I decided to not only avoid these companies products on a retail level, but to also divest any funds that own that stock.

Quarterly, I look at the funds in which I am invested, find out which stocks they hold, and sell any fund that has purchased these companies.  I have learned that two fund I own are no longer aligned with my moral position on these companies:

First Eagle Global Fund Class I (SGIIX) has acquired a position in Nestle.

Vanguard Capital Opportunity Fund Admiral Shares (VHCAX) has acquired a position in Monsanto.

On Monday morning, I will no longer have a position in those funds.

How do you know where your money is?  Do you care?

Friday, August 29, 2014

In The "I'm a better punk than you" Department

by Dick Mac

It may be old and it may not look pretty, but it plays and it's mine!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

by Dick Mac

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Nook Is Dead. It has An Extended Warranty. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

by Dick Mac

I remember when Barnes & Noble was the bad guy because they destroyed all our local bookstores.

Now they are the good guys because they are our local bookstores and they are being destroyed by the likes of Amazon.

I use the Nook from Barnes & Noble.  When I got my Nook HD+ recently, I purchased the extended warranty.

My family has multiple Nooks, and the Nook app is on our non-Nook devices.

My newest Nook (the HD+) stopped working.  It won't hold a charge.  These things happen.  But, to be sure, I spent a couple of days trying to charge it in different rooms, at home and at the office, with the original cable and with the extra cable I purchased for travel.  No good.  Sadly, my Nook must be serviced.

I call the 800 number and it's the usual scenario that we have all come to accept.  The guy treats me like a child and has me touching buttons and inserting plugs and cables, as if I haven't already tried all of this.  I understand.  It's his job.  He has to troubleshoot to determine if my Nook needs replacing.  I cooperate and he determines that I need a replacement.  It can be here in 3 - 5 business days.

In order to get a replacement I have to give him my credit card information.


I don't like this.  I have already paid for this device, then I paid almost the same amount again for extended protection.

Now they want my credit card?  In fact, they want me to read all the information over the phone to a stranger in a foreign country.

Wow!  What a scam.

I pay for a Nook, then I purchase the extended warranty.  My Nook stops working.  I call and am told that in order to get a replacement, I have to give some guy my credit card information (again), "in case I don't return the device"!

How insulting is that?

They want me to trust some stranger in some foreign country with my credit card information, but don't trust me with the Nook I already paid for.  They presume I am going to steal their shitty broken Nook, but I am supposed to trust them.

There is a work around.  I can return the Nook and they will send a replacement.  However, I can't bring the broken Nook downstairs to the BN I purchased it from, I have to ship it first and then they will send the replacement.

How will this work?

They will email me a label, then I affix it to a box broken device is in.  I have to find the box.  A padded envelope won't do, I have to use a box.  My own box.  When they get the broken Nook, they will get around to sending a replacement.  This will take three weeks.


But, if I give them my credit card, I can have my replacement in 3-5 business days.

I selected Nook not because it is the best choice, but to support BN.  The Nook isn't any better than any other reading device or tablet.  In fact, in many ways it is lacking.  But, I was a BN shopper and I wanted to support them.

That has proven to be a poor choice, a bad decision.

Barnes & Noble doesn't care about me a fraction as much as I care about them!

I will be switching booksellers and devices as soon as these Nooks are gone.

I consider some companies to be "good" companies and some companies to be "bad" companies.

BN used to be on my list of good companies.

While protecting their bottom line BN might want to examine exactly how insulting they are to long-time customers who have been loyal.

BN, go to hell!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

People who don't even know they are racists are so often lying racists! Yeah, you!

by Dick Mac

A "conservative" meme is being spread around Facebook.

More than one of my relatives have posted it.

Racism is a form of mental illness.  "Conservatives" aren't bad people, they are sick people.

The meme uses a favorite conservative tactic of accusing victims of racism as being the actual racists.  It shows four images depicting Congressional caucuses:  The black caucus image is a group of brown-skinned members of Congress.  The other three images are blank, and the caption reads:  "Oh, I see, but everyone else is racist, right?"

The implication is that there are no Latino, Asian caucuses, or White caucuses.

This, of course, is a massive lie just like everything else "conservatives" try to tell us (and themselves).

What is the truth?  One look at the list of current caucuses points out that the vast majority of them are for Whites, that there are multiple Latino and Asian caucuses, and one Black caucus.  One.

Here is an alphabetical list of all the Congressional caucuses, in 2014: 

2015 Caucus, 21st Century Health Care Caucus, 30 Something Working Group, 4-H Caucus, 9/11 Commission Caucus, Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, Afterschool Caucuses, Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus, Alzheimer's Disease Congressional Task Force, American Sikh Congressional Caucus, Americans Abroad Caucus, Animal Protection Caucus, Anti-Value Added Tax Caucus, The Anti-VAT Caucus, Appalachian Caucus, Armenian Caucus, Army Corps Reform Caucus, Bangladesh Caucus, Bike Caucus AKA Bicycle Caucus, Biomedical Research Caucus, Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, Bipartisan Working Group on Disaster Recovery and Response, The, Blue Dog Coalition, Congressional Bourbon Caucus, Building a Better America Caucus, California Democratic Congressional Delegation, Caribbean Caucus, Center Aisle Caucus, Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force, Children's Environmental Health Caucus, Coalition on Autism Research and Education, Community College Caucus, Community Solutions and Initiatives Caucus, Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, Congressional Arts Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Automotive Caucus, Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, Congressional Battlefield Caucus, Congressional Bicameral Arthritis Caucus, Congressional Bike Caucus, Congressional Biomass Caucus, Congressional Biotechnology Caucus, Congressional Bipartisan Cerebral Palsy Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Boating Caucus, Congressional Border Caucus, Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, Congressional Brazil Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, Congressional Caucus for Bosnia, Congressional Caucus on Central America, Congressional Caucus on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Congressional Caucus on Global Road Safety, Congressional Montenegro Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, Congressional Caucus on the Judicial Branch, Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian Americans, Congressional Caucus on the Netherlands, Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Americans, Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans, Congressional Caucus on Uganda, Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, Congressional Caucus on Youth Sports, Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus, Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine, Congressional Children's Caucus, Congressional China Caucus, Congressional Coal Caucus, Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Congressional Coastal Caucus, Congressional Complementary and Alternative Medicine Caucus, Congressional Constitution Caucus, Congressional Correctional Officers Caucus, Congressional Croatian Caucus, Congressional Czech Caucus, Congressional Diabetes Caucus, Congressional E-911 Caucus, Congressional Farmer Cooperative Caucus, Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Congressional Fitness Caucus, Congressional Food Safety Caucus, Congressional Forest Task Force, Congressional Former Mayors Caucus, Congressional Fraternal Caucus, Congressional French Caucus, Congressional Friends of Denmark, Congressional Gaming Caucus, Congressional Gulf of Mexico Caucus, Congressional Hearing Health Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Conference, Congressional HUBZone Caucus, Congressional Hockey Caucus, Congressional Horse Caucus, Congressional Human Rights Caucus, Congressional Humanities Caucus, Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, Congressional Insurance Caucus, Congressional Intelligent Transportation Systems Caucus, Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, Congressional Internet Caucus, Congressional Iraqi Women's Caucus, Congressional Kidney Caucus, Congressional Kids Safety Caucus, Congressional Labor and Working Families Caucus, Congressional Life Science Caucus, Congressional Management Caucus, Congressional Manufacturing Caucus, Congressional Manufacturing Task Force, Congressional Medical Professionals Caucus, Congressional Men's Health Caucus, Congressional Mental Health Caucus, Congressional Mentoring Caucus, Congressional Mine Warfare Caucus, Congressional Mining Caucus, Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, Congressional Montenegro Caucus, Congressional Morocco Caucus, Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus, Congressional Neuroscience Caucus, Congressional Nursing Caucus, Congressional Organic Caucus, Congressional Pakistan Caucus, Congressional Port Security Caucus, Congressional Prayer Caucus, Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Pro-Trade Caucus, Congressional Real Estate Caucus, Congressional Rural Caucus, Congressional Rural Housing Caucus, Congressional Safe Climate Caucus, Congressional Scouting Caucus, Congressional Savings and Ownership Caucus, Congressional Second Amendment Caucus, Congressional Serbian Caucus, Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, Congressional Ski and Snowboard Caucus, Congressional Singapore Caucus, Congressional Spina Bifida Caucus, Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, Congressional Steel Caucus, Congressional Stop DUI Caucus, Congressional Submarine Caucus, Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Congressional Taskforce on International HIV/AIDS, Congressional Tourism and Travel Caucus, Congressional TRIO Caucus, Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, Congressional United Kingdom Caucus, Congressional Victim's Rights Caucus, Congressional Vision Caucus, Congressional Waterways Caucus, Congressional Western Caucus, Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus, Congressional Working Group on Parkinson's Disease, Congressional Zoo and Aquarium Caucus, Consumer Justice Caucus, Delaware River Basin Task Force, Diversity and Innovation Caucus, Democratic Israel Working Group, Duma-Congress Study Group, E-Waste Working Group, House Economic Competitiveness Caucus, Senate Economic Competitiveness Caucus, Electronic Warfare Working Group, Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus, Flat Tax Caucus, Friends of Norway Caucus, House Friends of Scotland Caucus, Senate Friends of Scotland Caucus, Friends of Switzerland Caucus, Future Caucus, Future of American Media Caucus, German-American Caucus, Global AIDS Emergency Task Force, House Great Lakes Task Force, Senate Great Lakes Task Force, Historic Preservation Caucus, House Aerospace Caucus, House Afterschool Caucus, House Agriculture Energy Users Caucus, House Army Caucus, House Baltic Caucus, House Beef Caucus, House Biofuels Caucus, House Democratic Caucus, House Military Depot and Industrial Facilities Caucus, House Oceans Caucus, House Reading Caucus, House Recycling Caucus, House Republican Israel Caucus, House Rural Health Care Coalition, House Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Caucus, House Trade Working Group, House Trails Caucus, Hudson River Caucus, Hungarian American Caucus, India Caucus, Indonesia Caucus, International Conservation Caucus, International Workers Rights Caucus, Interstate 69 Caucus, Intelligent Transportation Caucus, Japan Caucus, Kenya Caucus, Korea Caucus, Kurdish American Caucus 2007, Latino-Jewish Congressional Caucus, Law Enforcement Caucus, LGBT Equality Caucus, Liberty Caucus, Montenegro Caucus, Minor League Baseball Caucus, Multiple Sclerosis Caucus, National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus, National Landscape Conservation System Caucus, National Service Congressional Caucus, Navy-Marine Corps Caucus, New Democrat Coalition, North America’s Supercorridor Caucus, Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, Northern Border Caucus, Nuclear Issues Caucus, Out of Iraq Caucus, Passenger Rail Caucus, Patriot Act Reform Caucus, Pell Grant Caucus, The, Physics Caucus, The, Populist Caucus, Ports Caucus, The, Public Broadcasting Caucus, Public Service Caucus, Qatari-American Economic Strategic Defense, Cultural, and Educational Partnership Caucus, Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, Republican Study Committee, Research and Development Caucus, River of Trade Corridor Congressional Caucus, Saudi Arabia Study Group, The, Senate Afterschool Caucus, Senate Economic Mobility Caucus, Senate Oceans Caucus, Senate Taiwan Caucus, Sex and Violence in the Media Caucus, Sexual Assault Violence Elimination (SAVE) Taskforce, Shellfish Caucus, Silk Road Caucus, Special Operations Forces Caucus, State Maritime Academy Caucus, Stop DUI Caucus, Sudan Caucus, Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Tea Party Caucus, TEX-21 Congressional Caucus, Unexploded Ordnance Caucus, Upper Mississippi River Basin Task Force, U.S.-Afghan Caucus, U.S.-China Working Group, U.S.-Mongolia Friendship Caucus, U.S.-New Zealand Congressional Caucus, Victim's Rights Caucus, Victory in Iraq Caucus, Wounded to Work Congressional Caucus, Youth Challenge Caucus, Zero Capital Gains Tax Caucus.
So, when a "conservative" tries to tell you that the real racists are the blacks, just laugh in his face. Reason, dialog and pity haven't worked so let's start laughing at them.